Communications

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TRAVEL TIPS

Communications

Internet

Most hotels, even basic establishments, provide an Internet connection or Wi-Fi, if not in the rooms at least in public areas; ask when you make a reservation. In most cities and tourist destinations, you'll also be able to find Internet cafés and other establishments with Wi-Fi.

Remember that the Turkish electricity supply runs on 220 volts. Many laptops, tablets, and other devices are equipped with built-in converters, but you will need an adapter that allows you to plug into wall outlets, which take European-type plugs, with two or three round prongs.

Phones

Telephone numbers in Turkey have seven-digit local numbers preceded by a three-digit city code (toll-free numbers might have fewer or more digits). In Istanbul, European and Asian Istanbul have separate area codes: the code for much of European Istanbul is 212, and the code for Asian Istanbul (numbers beginning with 3 or 4) is 216. Mobile phone codes vary depending on the carrier but generally start with 5. The country code for Turkey is 90.

Calling Within Turkey

Within a city you don't need to dial the code for other numbers with the same code, but in Istanbul you need to dial the code (0212 or 0216) when calling from the European to the Asian side of the city or vice versa. All local cellular calls are classed as long distance, and you need to dial the city code for every number.

To call long-distance within Turkey, dial 131 if you need operator assistance; otherwise dial 0, then dial the city code and number.

With the increase in the use of mobile phones very few people now use pay phones, but it's still possible to find them. Directions in English and other languages are often posted in phone booths, along with other country codes. Directory assistance is not terribly efficient and it can be difficult to find an English-speaking operator; you’re best off asking the staff at your hotel to help you find a number.

Public phones use phone cards, which can be purchased at post offices and, for a small markup, at most corner stores, newspaper vendors, and street stalls. Pay-phone-only cards can be purchased with 4 TL worth of credit at a time, while a card that can be used with both public phones or landlines comes in denominations of 5 TL, 10 TL, and 25 TL; buy a larger card for long-distance calls within Turkey, a smaller one for local use. Make sure to ask for a calling card for a public phone (ankesörlü telefon), as calling cards for cellular phones are also available, and you cannot use the two interchangeably. Very few public phones (and only in cities) also take credit cards.

To make a local call, insert your phone card or credit card, wait until the light at the top of the phone goes off, then dial the number.

Some kiosks selling newspapers or small stores have phones that you can use to place calls. The cost is usually approximately the same as it would be for a standard pay phone. If you want to use one, say "telefon" (Turkish for telephone), and the proprietor will usually either produce a phone or show you where you can find one.

Calling Outside Turkey

The country code is 1 for the United States. To make an international call from a public phone in Turkey, dial 00, then dial the country code, area or city code, and the number. If you need international dialing codes and assistance or phone books, you can go to the nearest post office or Internet café. In general, calling from a hotel is almost always expensive, because hotels often add huge surcharges to calls. An inexpensive option is to make international calls from call centers or the post office, and calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum.

Internet cafés typically offer international calling service with prices comparable to a phone card, but be sure to ask for rates first.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct. 0811/288–0001.

MCI WorldPhone. 0811/288–0012.

Sprint International Access. 00/800--1--4477.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use frequencies other than those used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone in Turkey. Roaming fees can be steep, though—99¢ a minute is considered reasonable—and you will probably pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call since text messages have a very low set fee (often less than 5¢).

Renting a phone in Turkey is very expensive, and it's not easy to find shops that rent. The best solution is to buy a SIM card to install in your phone, along with a pay-as-you-go service. Note that if you are staying in Turkey for more than two weeks, you will have to register your foreign phone to use it with a Turkish SIM card or risk having the phone blocked. The bureaucracy and cost (there’s a 139 TL tax) involved in this task may make buying a cheap local phone the more pragmatic choice. There are several mobile phone providers in Turkey. The largest is Turkcell, followed by Vodafone and Avea. Each has a network of clearly marked stores, where it is possible to buy SIM cards and pay-as-you-go cards (be sure to bring your passport with you when you go to buy a SIM). Most salespeople speak enough English to conduct business and answer basic questions. All stores post easy-to-understand signs that indicate unit packages and prices. Expect to pay about 25 TL for 500 minutes (sometimes referred to as units, or kontör), regardless of the company. An international call will generally cost about three times as much as a call within Turkey of the same duration.

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